BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Butte County unanimously passed a needle ban last week, but now the California Department of Public Health is attempting to completely eliminate local control over the establishment of needle giveaway programs.
James Gallagher, Assemblyman for California’s 3rd District, is pushing for local control of this issue.
“We’re not going to allow the Department of Public Health to circumvent local control and our ability to determine our own destiny and what we think is best for our communities,” Gallagher said.
Syringe Service Programs throughout the state do not only hand out needles, but also provide testing and counseling to help prevent outbreaks of diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there has been a 50% decline in the risk of HIV transmission with these types of programs.
The CDC also states that when two similar cities were compared, the one with a syringe service program had 86% fewer syringes in places like parks and sidewalks.
Gallagher is outspoken on the issue and disagrees.
“These needles end up in our creeks, in our parks, our public places and become a danger and a hazard,” said Gallagher.
People throughout Butte County said they are tired of seeing needle litter, but also understand that these people need help.
“I’d certainly like to see things go forward so that these people can have opportunities to make a little bit of change to their life,” said Polly Tripp, who has lived in Chico for over 20 years.
Butte County’s ban will not go into effect until it is finalized at a future meeting.
The county is asking anyone with comment on the issue over local or state control to email email@example.com with “Syringe Exchange Program Regulatory Consistency” by April 5.